How to Become a Better Negotiator – 5 Key Principles

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Negotiation is frequently viewed as something selfish, implying that you must always win. This, however, is not the point of negotiation. An ideal scenario is one in which all parties are happy because they both won. But if either side doesn’t feel like that, they will feel cheated.

For business people or entrepreneurs, negotiation is a part of life, they do it every day otherwise they won’t be able to run a successful business. However, not everybody is an established businessman but they still have to negotiate in so many situations. Whether, it’s signing a contract, during interviews, or dealing with a new client.

Therefore, regardless of the industry niche or situation, you must learn to negotiate because success follows people who have mastered the skill of negotiation. But the problem arises because not everybody is naturally good negotiators. It’s almost intimidating for most of us. Our heartbeat increases, we tend to baffle, and fight or flight mode kicks in.

If that sounds familiar, then there’s good news. Just like any other skill, you can learn to negotiate. The best negotiators, in particular, are those who have honed their skills over time. So, if you want to be a successful negotiator, put these principles into motion.

1. Think about the outcome

Negotiating requires a lot of mental effort. Your mind will be driven and pulled in several directions during these conversations. When you’re negotiating, you’re not just thinking about what you want to say next, but you’re still listening carefully to what the other side is saying so you can answer skillfully and calmly. No matter what comes up. You will plan for this by having the right attitude going into the conversation.

Because the way you mentally prepare for the conversation you are going to have—impacts directly on the result you’ll get from the conversation. Once you’re comfortable with all the risks aligned with losing, you naturally get more comfortable and confident with the present situation.

And studies by Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia University found that this is rather powerful if you want to become a better negotiator. He found out that when a person goes with the mindset of being prepared with the losses he might have to take. That person often wins the negotiation or is satisfied with his gains.

Therefore, always prepare beforehand and evaluate the risks. This way, you’ll be more bold and confident about your offer. Sometimes, you also need to start from a higher point and be bold about it. Because it’s possible to negotiate down from the high and not the other way around.

2. Be prepared with your information

The more information you’ve got the better are your chances of proving your point.

For example, when you’re buying groceries, you don’t need to learn the industry standards, or go through the data and figure out some useful statics that can support your claim. However, when you’re going to pitch your startup idea in front of your potential investors, you definitely need that education beforehand.

It’s the same for asking for a raise. You can’t ask for a raise which even your seniors don’t get.

Therefore, it’s figuring out the sweet spot. A place where you are satisfied with your numbers and the other party is also able to manage it because they see the value.

To make that happen, you’ll need data to back up your claims and make a reasonable point for you.

3. Take it as a conversation

What is the key feature of having a conversation? Both parties talk. It’s like how you talk to your friends. Both people are talking and both people are trying to listen and understand when the other person is making a point.

You have to practice the same while negotiating also. Remember when we said that negotiation is not about making the other person lose? So why would you not let them talk or understand their side?

The moment you’ve explained your thoughts and made a point, you must be patient and understand the other person also. Let them talk. Let them tell their story. And let them make their point also.

Let the other person talk so that you can understand their mindset. You’ll be able to see their perspective also.

The more you let this happen, the more it becomes easier for you to find a common ground for the negotiation.

Do not for a second misunderstand that you are right and they are wrong. It’s not the right mentality and this reflects in your conversation which is not good. Because the person will find it insulting and it will get harder to set your points.

According to research, the more you understand their mentality and point of view, the more likely you are to find common ground.

4. Learn to be quiet

This is one of the most challenging aspect of any negotiation. This is the part where you either talk or remain silent. And a lot of people make mistakes in this area.

People usually feel uncomfortable during silences and they like to justify. For example, some people would start to explain themselves or try to add more things into their already made points. They feel the urge to jump into the conversation again because there was a serious silence.

And this often goes on until it seems like rambling.


Like we already said in the previous principle. You make your point and then give attention to the other person and actually listen to them.

Here are some benefits of doing that:

  • You stay away from disclosing any unnecessary material. 
  • It demonstrates that you are certain of what you’ve suggested and haven’t changed your mind.
  • It puts an uncomfortable amount of pressure on the other person to answer, invoking their fight-or-flight response in the hopes of raising the likelihood that they will say yes.

5. Be willing to walk away

This frame of mind will assist in making sense of what we’ve been talking about here.

If you’re too afraid to lose, how are you going to say the things you need to say? Moreover, how you can be bold and confident if you are not ready to accept both outcomes.

This doesn’t mean that you simply don’t negotiate or make your points. But it means that if the other person is not willing to accept your offers or the number is not something you can agree to, then be ready to walk away.

Because if you are still in the same place even after having a negotiation, what is the point of having the conversation in the first place?

However, do note that this is going to be riskier and so you should be very mindful of where you’re going to have the negotiation.

For example, if it’s about real estate or buying a car, then you can be more bold and decisive but if it’s about something more serious like a business deal or a raise. Then it’s better to set a range that is acceptable by both sides.

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As we said, negotiation is a skill that can be learned and mastered through deliberate practice. You just need to be able to adjust to uncomfortable situations.

It’s not going to be easy initially but start by making your argument. Learn to tell your side of the story and see what happens.

Once you learn to apply all the principles we have mentioned here, you are going to be more satisfied with your finance and your life.

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